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Why I Sold the Linkedin to Microsoft – Linkedin CEO

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The Chief Executive Officer of LinkedIn Corp., Jeff Weiner in his emotional letter to employees on Monday shared some ideas on why Linkedin’s services could be better with Microsoft’s products.

The CEO said the company would remain a fully independent entity within Microsoft organization.

Below is the full letter posted by the CEO to Linkedin on Monday:

December 15th, 2008, marked the first day of the best job I’ve ever had. My rationale for joining LinkedIn was simple: The opportunity to work with Reid Hoffman, a founder I greatly admired and respected; to join an extremely talented and dedicated team; and to massively scale LinkedIn’s membership and business, both of which had the potential to fundamentally transform the way the world connects to opportunity. Never in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined what would happen in the next 7½ years. Our team has grown from 338 people to over 10,000, our membership from 32M to over 433M and our revenue from $78M to over $3 billion.

Despite those accomplishments, we’ve only just begun to realize our full potential and purpose: Our mission to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful, and our vision to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.

Today’s announcement, that LinkedIn will be combining forces with Microsoft, marks the next step in our journey together, the next stepping stone toward realizing our mission and vision, and in remaining CEO of the company, the next chapter in the greatest professional experience of my life.

No matter what you’re feeling now, give yourself some time to process the news. You might feel a sense of excitement, fear, sadness, or some combination of all of those emotions. Every member of the exec team has experienced the same, but we’ve had months to process. Regardless of the ups and downs, we’ve come out the other side knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is the best thing for our company.

Let me explain why.

Every day I come to work, I’m primarily guided by two things:

First, realizing our mission and vision. While this has always been top of mind for me, it’s never been more so than now. Remember that dystopian view of the future in which technology displaces millions of people from their jobs? It’s happening. In the last three weeks alone, Foxconn announced it will replace 60,000 factory workers with robots, a former CEO of McDonald’s said given rising wages, the same would happen throughout their franchises, Walmart announced plans to start testing drones in its warehouses, and Elon Musk predicted fully autonomous car technology would arrive within two years.

Whether it’s worker displacement, the skills gap, youth unemployment, or socio-economic stratification, the impact on society will be staggering. I’ve said it on multiple occasions and believe it even more so every day: creating economic opportunity will be the defining issue of our time. That’s why I’m here and why I can’t imagine doing any other job. Simply put, what we do matters, and matters more than ever.

The second thing I focus on every day is making our culture and values come to life. Ten years ago, had you asked me about culture and values I would have rolled my eyes and recited a line from Dilbert. But when I started as CEO I began to appreciate just how important they were. Culture and values provide the foundation upon which everything else is built. They are arguably our most important competitive advantage, and something that has grown to define us. It’s one thing to change the world. It’s another to do it in our own unique way: Members first. Relationships matter. Be open, honest and constructive. Demand excellence. Take intelligent risks. Act like an owner.

That’s who we are. That’s LinkedIn.

I primarily focus on these two things, because that’s all I ever wanted when I was in your shoes: A clear sense of purpose and the opportunity to be successful in pursuit of that purpose. Thankfully, in my current role, I can actually do something about that.

In order to pursue our mission and vision, and to do so in a way consistent with our culture and values, we need to control our own destiny.

That, above all else, is the most important rationale behind today’s announcement.

At this point, some of you may be thinking this sounds completely counterintuitive: How will we be more likely to control our own destiny after being acquired? The answer lies in both the way in which the world has been evolving and the unique way in which this deal will be structured.

Imagine a world where we’re no longer looking up at Tech Titans such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, and wondering what it would be like to operate at their extraordinary scale — because we’re one of them.

Imagine a world where we’re not reacting to the intensifying competitive landscape — we’re leading it with advantages most companies can only dream of leveraging.

Imagine a world where we’re not pressured to compromise on long-term investment, hesitant to disrupt ourselves, or hamstrung in the way we can reward and acquire new talent due to stock price concerns, but consistently investing intelligently toward the realization of our mission and vision.

And imagine a world where a global economic downturn doesn’t limit our ability to execute, but reinforces the essential quality of our purpose and actually strengthens our resolve when people need us most.

With today’s news, we won’t need to imagine any of it because it’s now our reality.

Some of you may be asking “Why Microsoft?”

Long before Satya and I first sat down to talk about how we could work together, I had publicly shared my thoughts on how impressive his efforts were to rapidly transition Microsoft’s strategy and culture. After all, it’s extremely rare to see a company of that scope and scale move so quickly to make fundamental changes.

The Microsoft that has evolved under Satya’s leadership is a more agile, innovative, open and purpose-driven company. It was that latter point that first had me thinking we could make this work, but it was his thoughts on how we’d do it that got me truly excited about the prospect.

When Satya first proposed the idea of acquiring LinkedIn, he said it was absolutely essential that we had alignment on two things: Purpose and structure. On the former, it didn’t take long before the two of us realized we had virtually identical mission statements. For LinkedIn, it was to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful, and for Microsoft it was to empower every individual and organization in the world to achieve more. Essentially, we’re both trying to do the same thing but coming at it from two different places: For LinkedIn, it’s the professional network, and for Microsoft, the professional cloud.

Both of us recognized that combining these assets would be unique and had the potential to unlock some enormous opportunities.

For example:

  • Massively scaling the reach and engagement of LinkedIn by using the network to power the social and identity layers of Microsoft’s ecosystem of over one billion customers. Think about things like LinkedIn’s graph interwoven throughout Outlook, Calendar, Active Directory, Office, Windows, Skype, Dynamics, Cortana, Bing and more.
  • Accelerating our objective to transform learning and development by deeply integrating the Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning solution in Office alongside some of the most popular productivity apps on the planet (note: 6 of the top 25 most popular Lynda.com courses are related to Microsoft products).
  • Realizing LinkedIn’s full potential to truly change the way the world works by partnering with Microsoft to innovate on solutions within the enterprise that are ripest for disruption, e.g., the corporate directory, company news dissemination, collaboration, productivity tools, distribution of business intelligence and employee voice, etc.
  • Expanding beyond recruiting and learning & development to create value for any part of an organization involved with hiring, managing, motivating or leading employees. This human capital area is a massive business opportunity and an entirely new one for Microsoft.
  • Giving Sponsored Content customers the ability to reach Microsoft users anywhere across the Microsoft ecosystem, unlocking significant untapped inventory.
  • Redefining social selling through the combination of Sales Navigator and Dynamics.
  • Leveraging our subscription capabilities to provide opportunities to the massive number of freelancers and independent service providers that use Microsoft’s apps to run their business on a daily basis.

And these are just some of the ideas that have been discussed since our first meeting.

Turning from purpose, we focused our attention on potential structure. I had no idea what Satya was going to propose, but knew how difficult acquisition integrations could be if not established the right way from the start.

Long story short, Satya had me at “independence.” In other words, his vision was to operate LinkedIn as a fully independent entity within Microsoft, a model used with great success by companies like YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp. I would remain as CEO and report directly to him instead of a board. Together, along with Reid, Bill Gates, my former colleague Qi Lu, and new partner Scott Guthrie, we would partner on how best to leverage this extraordinary combination of assets while pursuing a shared mission. This, we both agreed, might not only be a structure that could work, it would be one in which both companies could thrive.

Now onto the most important question: What does this mean for you specifically as an employee of LinkedIn?

Given our ability to operate independently, little is expected to change: You’ll have the same title, the same manager, and the same role you currently have. The one exception: For those members of the team whose jobs are entirely focused on maintaining LinkedIn’s status as a publicly traded company, we’ll be helping you find your next play. In terms of everything else, it should be business as usual. We have the same mission and vision; we have the same culture and values; and I’m still the CEO of LinkedIn.

I wanted to conclude on a familiar note. One of the most memorable moments I’ve experienced at LinkedIn was ringing the bell at the NYSE. I remember the All Hands we had following the event like it was yesterday. During that meeting, we reinforced the fact that becoming public was not the end game, but rather a stepping stone in the process of our ultimate objectives. We finished the All Hands with two words that have become LinkedIn’s unofficial mantra: “Next play.” In other words, don’t dwell on the past, lingering for too long on a lesson learned, or the celebration of a special accomplishment, but rather focus on the task at hand. It’s a mantra that’s served us well.

So, here’s to the next stepping stone.

Next play.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Business

Osinbajo, Others Launch Smart Card Factory in Lagos, First in Sub-Saharan Africa

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It’s the first in sub-Saharan Africa and one of the three such cutting-edge facilities on the continent, with top prime global certifications for smart card manufacturing and it is based in Lagos, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo relished yesterday afternoon while touring SecureID company’s premises, and affirmed Nigeria’s extremely bright economic future, which he said cannot be aborted despite current challenges.

According to him, “the economic future of our nation is extremely bright. Yes, we have challenges today and they may look daunting. But let me assure you that these issues will be resolved. The march of this nation to its manifest destiny as Africa’s leading economic power will not be aborted. We are more than able to overcome.”

An impressed Osinbajo said the Buhari administration in “following the recommendation of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, has determined that manufacturing will be our main focus in bringing about dynamic growth, jobs and exports. This will mean retooling our business environment for greater competitiveness, especially with the take-off of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement.

“We are rethinking our tax regimes, sorting out external and internal trade issues, getting our regulatory authorities; SON, NAFDAC, and even Customs, to see their roles more as business facilitators rather than policemen or revenue generators. Our environment must be friendly for local businesses first, foreign investments will follow enthusiastically.”

SecuredID Smart Card- Investorsking

Commenting on the efforts of the administration to position the country as a leading economic beacon on the continent, the VP also stated that the Buhari administration was ramping up efforts in improving the country’s infrastructure and digital space.

He said, “aside from the work we are doing with other infrastructure such as rail, roads and power we are committed to a plan of democratizing broadband connectivity. Our program, which we have reiterated in our Economic Sustainability Plan, is broadband connectivity for all by 2023.

“The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy launched the National Broadband Plan which is designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria of a minimum 25mbps in urban areas and 10mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90% of the population at affordable prices by the target date. Broadband connectivity is as important as electricity in the digital age, unlike electricity we do not have to make several mistakes before getting it right.”

While commending the efforts of the founder and Managing Director of SecureID, Kofo Akinkugbe, VP. Osinbajo described the SecureID facility as a place of history, innovation and creativity.

He said, “This world-class manufacturing facility is reputed to be the first certified smartcard manufacturing plant in sub-Saharan Africa, the only smart card production and personalization plant in West Africa and one of only six on the continent and one of only 80 in the world.

“The facility serves 21 countries across Africa and is fully certified by major commercial card companies – VISA, Verve and MasterCard. SecureID has shown that this country can be at the cutting edge of development in technology and digital enterprises. The world in which companies like SecureID operate, providing comprehensive end-to-end payment, identity management and digital security solutions is one that thrives on innovation.”

Continuing, the VP said, “the company has in these few years of her existence provided notable innovative offerings to the financial services sector, telecommunications, government, education, healthcare and private enterprises. Equally remarkable is the fact that with this facility, the company can produce all the payment cards, SIM cards, loyalty cards and the various identity management cards (residency cards, voter registration cards, drivers’ license and national identity cards) required here in Nigeria, with the capacity to spare.

“Congratulations also for your successes in getting the certifications that will help to meet the demands of customers, such as Global System of Mobile Applications (GSMA), Visa International, MasterCard Incorporated, Verve, Card Quality Management (CQM), and ISO 9001/2015 for Smart Card Manufacturing and Personalization of credit and debit cards.

“In particular, we must also congratulate SecureID for earning the GSMA certificate last year; this is a world-class security requirement for SIM card manufacturing and personalization. Your rapid expansion is also worthy of commendation, especially as you have added a number of subsidiaries, one of which is the digital arm of the business: SID Digital, while the other is involved in transport payment infrastructure. This has put the company in good stead to provide services ranging from identity management to tax collection, school management systems, health management systems, digital cards for the banks and, of course, e-ticketing for all forms of transportation, including road, rail and water.”

Speaking earlier at the event, the founder of SecureID, Kofo Akinkugbe, highlighted the significance of the Vice President’s visit, noting that the VP has come to see some of the much-touted potential being realized. She added that SecureID was a good entrepreneurial story of an abiding faith in God and the nation, proving the viability of investing and staying in the course.

Akinkugbe commended the federal government for establishing institutions and agencies to support and encourage start-ups, MSMEs and other enterprises that had offered assistance to the company.

SecureID- Investorsking

The representative of the Governor of Lagos State, the Anglican Bishop of Lagos State, Humphrey Olumakaiye, alongside other top government functionaries, also attended the event.

Accompanying the Vice President was the Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada; Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Office of the Vice President, Ade Ipaye; and the Economic Adviser to the President, in the Office of the Vice President, Adeyemi Dipeolu.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President

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Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom Partners Ibom Air

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Ibom Air - Investors King

The Bayelsa State Government has opened partnership discussions with its Akwa Ibom counterpart on the use of the new domestic carrier, Ibom Air to start commercial flight operations at the Bayelsa International Airport.

Speaking as the leader of a high-powered delegation from Bayelsa at a meeting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, the Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, noted that the choice of Ibom Air was informed by proximity and good bilateral relations between the two states.

Ewhrudjakpo, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Doubara Atasi, explained that Akwa Ibom has proved itself as a dependable neighbour to Bayelsa in so many ways over the years, which must be reciprocated “in the spirit of give and take”.

He expressed optimism that the partnership deal would soon be sealed for the airline to commence flights to and from Bayelsa, Lagos and Abuja, describing the two routes as the highest in traffic for the people of the state.

The Deputy Governor assured Bayelsans and members of the public of the present administration’s commitment to ensure smooth operations at the state airport, which is adjudged to be one of the best in the country by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

According to him, the state government was applying the business principle of, “starting small to grow big,” by going for a 50-Seater aircraft in its present deal with Ibom Air to promote socioeconomic activities in the state.

Ewhrudjakpo, who likened efforts for acquiring the operational licence to Nelson Mandela’s “Long walk to Freedom”, however, added that government, had plans to do business with other airlines in the near future.

“Basically, we are here to discuss how we can have mutually beneficial partnership with your airline, IbomAir. And our target is on any of your aircraft that has the capacity of about 50 seaters because we don’t want to start too big,” he said.

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PayPal Acquires Happy Returns Logistics Business

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PayPal announced that it’s acquiring Happy Returns, a returns solution provider that offers online shoppers access to easier ways to send back unwanted merchandise to retailers without having to box it up and ship it themselves.

The company today offers a network of over 2,600 drop-off returns locations in the U.S., including those in over 1,200 metros and in every U.S. state.

It also has relationships with hundreds of brands that have been using its returns software and reverse logistics services. The company says it will continue to offer its returns experience to online retailers and shoppers as a part of PayPal.

Founded in 2015, Santa Monica-based Happy Returns’ value proposition was to take some of the overhead and cost out of the returns process for online retailers. Because online shoppers can’t inspect items they buy directly, online retail tends to see higher return rates, especially in apparel. Happy Returns found that online items are 3 to 4 times as likely to be returned than those purchased in-store, for example.

Meanwhile, today’s retailers have to compete with giants like Amazon and Walmart, both of which enable returns more easily for their customers by way of their large brick-and-mortar footprints — Amazon with Whole Foods other locations, and Walmart with its own stores. In fact, the foot traffic that offering an Amazon returns desk or locker system in-store has led retailers like Kohl’s and Stein Mart to embrace the enemy by catering to shoppers with Amazon returns in their own stores.

Today, the Happy Returns solution offers a combination of software, services and logistics that allows retailers to manage their returns through their own retail stores, by the carrier, as well as through Happy Returns’ “Return Bar” locations. These are found in physical retail stores like Paper Source, Sur La Table, Cost Plus World Market, and others. The service has been used by several digitally native brands, including Everlane, Rothy’s, and Parachute Home, among others.

Happy Returns has also been closely working with PayPal throughout its history, it notes. And notably, PayPal made a strategic investment in the business in 2019, as part of an $11 million financing round.

Following the deal’s close, Happy Returns will continue to work with retailers and shoppers both on and off PayPal’s platform, it says. The company’s co-founders, David Sobie and Mark Geller, and its full 120+ team will join PayPal and will report to Frank Keller, VP Consumer In-Store and Digital Commerce at PayPal.

PayPal is not disclosing the deal terms. To date, Happy Returns had raised $25 million in funding.

“This is an incredibly exciting milestone for our company, and it would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our entire team,” an announcement on Happy Returns’ website reads. “We are so proud of what our team has accomplished and are grateful for the tenacity, creativity and empathy Happy Returns employees bring to work each day. We are confident that the best is yet to come, and are looking forward to our next chapter as part of the PayPal organization.”

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